Euphemia Elphinstone

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Euphemia Elphinstone

Also Known As: "Euphame Elphinstone", "M16 N16"
Birthplace: Elphinstone, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Death: 1547 (37-38)
Shetland, Shetland Islands, Scotland (United Kingdom) (Poisoned?)
Place of Burial: Dunblane Cathedral, Dunblane
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Alexander Elphinstone, 1st Lord Elphinstone and Elizabeth Barlow
Wife of Sir John Bruce, of Cultmalindie and John Bruce, of Wester Kennet
Ex-partner of James V, King of Scots
Mother of Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney; Robert Bruce; Henry Bruce; James Bruce; Grissel Bruce and 3 others
Sister of Isabel Elphinstone; Elizabeth Elphinstone; Mary Elphinstone; Alexander Elphinstone, 2nd Lord Elphinstone; James Elphinstone and 1 other
Half sister of Margaret Forbes; Arthur Forbes, of Putachie and Lady Janet Forbes, Countess of Atholl

Managed by: Henn Sarv
Last Updated:

About Euphemia Elphinstone


Euphemia Elphinestone is the daughter of Alexander, Lord Elphinestone, and his wife Elizabeth Barlow. She was born on 11 May 1509. The Elphinestone Family Book, i, p. 50 The place of her birth is not mentioned in the Elphinestone Family Book Ibidem and Sir James Balfour Paul appears to have been unaware of it. The Scots Peerage, iii, p. 531

Bastard Son

Euphemia Elphinstone had a bastard son named Robert Stewart by James V, King of Scots. He and his mother are mentioned in an entail in a charter by which his father confirmed that he had given the lands of Temptalloun and others to his bastard son James by Margaret Erskine: "Rob. S. ejus fratri, filio naturali inter regem et Eufamiam Elphinstoun procreato." The charter was issued under the Great Seal of Scotland on 31 August 1536. Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, A.D. 1513-1546, charter number 1620 on pp. 360-61

First Marriage

Following the birth of her son Robert in the Spring of 1533, Euphemia Elphinestone was married to John Bruce of Cultmalindie with whom she had issue. The Scots Peerage, iii, p. 531 The marriage contract, between Alexander, Lord Elphinestone, her brother, and John Bruce of Cultmalindie, her future husband, was signed at Elphinestone on 13 April 1540. The Elphinestone Family Book, i, p. 83

Second Marriage

According to Francis J. Grant, following the death of her husband in March 1547, Euphemia Elphinestone married for a second time to John Bruce of Kennet but he offered no proof. The County Families of the Shetland Islands

Biographical Accounts

  1. The Elphinestone Family Book, i, p. 83
  2. Undiscovered Scotland: Euphemia Elphinstone
  3. Wikipedia: Euphemia Elphinstone
  4. Darryl Ludy's Peerage: Euphemia Elphinstone

Biographical Account by Wikipedia

Euphemia Elphinstone (also written Euphame or Eupheme; 11 May 1509 – either 1542 or after 1547) was a mistress of James V of Scotland and the mother of his son Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, born in 1532, as well as another royal bastard who died in childhood. One of her sons with her husband John Bruce was Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie (1547–1617), the builder of Muness Castle.

She was the second daughter of Alexander Elphinstone (born c. 1480, died 9 September 1513, at the Battle of Flodden Field), created Lord Elphinstone in 1510, and Elizabeth Barlow (Berclay) of Aberdeenshire (c. 1476 – 10 September 1518). The family hailed from Elphinstone in Stirling.

Her brother Alexander, Lord Elphinstone, died at Edinburgh following the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, and is the ancestor of the Elphinstone family. Euphemia married John Bruce of Cultmalindie (c. 1507 – March 1546/7), a descendant of Robert the Bruce, and had five children: Laurence Bruce, Robert Bruce (born c. 1536), Henry Bruce (born c. 1538), James Bruce (born c. 1540) and Euphamie Bruce (born c. 1542). She died either in 1542, or after 1547: there is no firm evidence for any death date.

Euphemia appears to have been, in her own right, rather unimportant: the daughter of a minor noble, she married a minor member of the Bruce family, and many consider her to be only a passing fancy to James V (although if she conceived by him on two separate occasions then this would appear slightly misleading). However, her children and descendants were to be important in the history of the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands. Her two most significant children, Laurence Bruce and Robert Stewart and their families were to become closely entwined in the Shetland Islands, of which Laurence Bruce was appointed Sheriff by his half-brother.

According to legend, many people in the Shetland Islands are descended from her; in particular, those named Bruce are supposed to be descended from her children by John Bruce.

Unknown Mistress (1) of James V

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Euphemia Elphinstone's Timeline

May 11, 1509
Elphinstone, Stirlingshire, Scotland
February 14, 1533
Cultmalindie, Perth, Scotland
Cultmilandie, Shetland, , Scotland
Cultmilandie, Shetland, , Scotland
January 1541
Cultmalindie, Perth, Scotland
Cultmilandie, Shetland, , Scotland
January 20, 1547
Cultmalindie, Perthshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Age 37
Shetland, Shetland Islands, Scotland (United Kingdom)
May 29, 1923
Age 38